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Final windfall beckons for Wilderness shareholders

MBONGENI MGUNI
Wilderness Jao Camp in the Okavango Delta PIC. WILDERNESS
Wilderness Holdings Limited has projected its pretax profits for the year ended February 28, 2019 will be up to 45% higher than last year. This will give shareholders a final big payout ahead of the delisting planned for August.

Wilderness, a Botswana-born pan African tourism group, is the subject of an ongoing takeover led by its CEO, Keith Vincent and backed by fund managers.

The company, which listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange in 2010, is widely perceived to control the high end of the Okavango Delta’s luxury hospitality market.

In a notice to shareholders this week, directors of the entity said pretax profits for the year to February 2019 were expected to be between P45 million-P52 million higher than the recorded amount in the corresponding period last year.

According to the BSE rules, listed companies are required to inform investors whenever due earnings are 10% above or below the previous corresponding reporting period.

Wilderness states dividend policy, reflects that the tourism group limits itself to paying out not more than 50% of its after tax profits.

The group also only considers dividend payouts for full year and not interim periods.

Shareholders last received a dividend payout last April, taking home a gross of 16.5 thebe per share. The higher projected profits this year suggest a better outcome for shareholders. For the shareholders due to exit, who include the Botswana Public Officers

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Pension Fund which holds 28 million shares in Wilderness, the forthcoming results are the final payday.

While shareholders are due to vote on the Vincent-led takeover today (Friday), Willderness’ results and dividend announcement are due at month end.

The share buyback offer however opened on April 1 and the deal, including a closing period, will only be finalised late July.

Thus shareholders still on the books will benefit from any dividend declared and paid out.

Today’s vote by shareholders is expected to be a fait accompli, as Vincent and his partners already have irrevocable commitments of support from other major shareholders.

Therefore, giving them an easy path over the target required to approve the delisting.

Should the P6.25 per share deal be accepted by investors holding at least 90% of the targeted shares, Vincent and his partners have the right to compulsorily acquire all of the targeted shares in line with the Companies Act.

Independent experts contracted by an ad hoc independent Wilderness board established for the transaction, have also given the proposed offer the thumbs-up, according to a recent report.

By the end of business on Tuesday, Wilderness was trading at P6.30.



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